Late Summer Reading!

girl reading on beach. (c) 2012 Jupiterimages

Photo: (c) 2012 Jupiterimages

Continuing a summer tradition here on our KUWC blog, we want to share our summer reading picks with you.  

Tell us what you are reading…

Cover of I Remember Nothing BookNora Ephron – I Remember Nothing (132 or 243 pages, depending on which way my  iPad is turned); Reviewed by Sheryl Bone, Writing Center Consultant, Writing Across the Curriculum, Kaplan University Writing Center.

Who should read this book?  Anyone interested in learning a little more about the life and times of the recently deceased author and playwright, Nora Ephron

Summary:  The title I Remember Nothing is slightly ironic for this lighthearted story.  A quick read, this book is a trip down memory lane courtesy of Nora Ephron. The opening line of the book is simply “I have been forgetting things for years-at least since my thirties.” The story unfolds with Ephron sharing what she does remember.  She takes the reader back to her childhood, through the early years of her career, her family stories, her divorces and her friendships.  She shares the story of her relationship with the playwright Lillian Hellman. As a big fan of Hellman’s, this was especially interesting to me. The ending of the book mirrors the beginning, with Ephron telling the reader What I Will Miss and What I Won’t Miss, presumably when her memory is finally gone.  Some reviewers theorize that these very funny lists were hints from Ephron that her health was failing.  I Remember Nothing is the last book Ephron wrote. Her final thank you in the acknowledgements is to her doctors.

 Why I picked this book? I was a fan of Nora Ephron.  I found her plays, books and movies lighthearted and fun. I was a fan of her as a person as well.  She was a devoted mother, loving wife and friend to many people whose work I admire and respect.  You may not know (or care), but Ephron founded the Divorce section of the Huffington Post, her way of coping with the difficult break up of her second marriage.  I respect someone who can not only work their way through a personally challenging time, but help others as she does it. I found myself annoyingly saddened when I read that Nora Ephron had died from leukemia on June 26. I proceeded to read everything I could lay my eyes on about Nora Ephron.  After doing so, I decided it was time to read the books she has written I haven’t yet read.  I started backwards in chronological order; I Remember Nothing being the final book she wrote. I have several more to go, which is okay, because they make great summer reading.

Favorite Quote:  On growing old….           Once a week there is some sort of bad news.  Once a month there is a funeral. You lose close friends and discover one of the worst truths of old age: they’re irreplaceable. People who run four miles a day and eat only nuts and berries drop dead.  People who drink a quart of whiskey and smoke two packs of cigarettes a day drop dead.  You are suddenly in a lottery, the ultimate game of chance, and someday your luck will run out.  Everybody dies. There’s nothing you can do about it. Whether you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God, although there’s no question a belief in God would come in handy.”

In Cold Blood Book CoverTruman Capote –  In Cold Blood (410 Pages);  Reviewed by Lisa Gerardy, Writing Specialist, Writing Across the Curriculum, Kaplan University Writing Center.

Who should read this book?  Anyone who enjoys non-fiction should read In Cold Blood.  This book is Truman Capote’s telling of a real-life horrific murder.  While the details can be difficult to read at times, the over all story is captivating.

Summary:  On the evening of November 15, 1959, four members of the Clutter family were murdered at their home in Holcomb, Kansas.  The two murderers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, became acquainted during a stint in prison and were looking for a large sum of cash so they could move to Mexico.  Another prisoner informed Hickock that the Clutter family had a safe filled with cash.  This was incorrect, as Mr. Clutter did not keep much cash in the house, preferring to pay for everything with checks. The robbers ended up with a small amount of cash and a few household items. Smith and Hickock murdered the family so that they would not go to prison for the robbery, but neither realized the number of clues that would lead law enforcement to them.

Why I picked this book?  I prefer non-fiction, and I will read any biographical story.  Also, I saw Capote biopic a few years ago.  So, I was curious to learn more about the Clutter story.

Favorite Quote:  Among Garden City’s animals are two gray tomcats who are always together – thin, dirty strays with strange and clever habits. The chief ceremony of their day is performed at twilight.  First they trot the length of Main Street, stopping to scrutinize the engine grilles of parked automobiles, particularly those stationed in front of the two hotels, the Windsor and Warren, for these cars, usually the property of travelers from afar, often yield what the bony, methodical creatures are hunting: slaughtered birds – crows, chickadees, and sparrows foolhardy enough to have flown into the path of oncoming motorists.  Using their paws as though they are surgical instruments, the cats extract from the grilles every feathery particle.  Having cruised Main Street, they invariably turn the corner at Main and Grant, then lope along toward Courthouse Square, another of their hunting grounds – and a highly promising one on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 6, for the area swarmed with Finney County vehicles that had brought to town part of the crowd populating the square (Capote, 292).

Hannah Coulter Book Cover imageWendell Berry – Hannah Coulter (190 pages); Reviewed by Melody Pickle, Writing Center Specialist, Writing Across the Curriculum, Kaplan University Writing Center

Who Should Read This Book?  Those who would like to experience the personal inner workings of a small rural town and its characters as the town grows and matures and is understood by the also aging main character, Hannah Coulter.  Whether or not you have read the other books in the series (I have not), this book brings breadth and depth to the life of the town as it explains how land, history, and ancestry intersect, forming daily life.

Summary:  This first person narrative, chronicles the life of Hannah Coulter in a small Kentucky town.  Windowed twice, Hannah, experiences love and loss and is made strong as only a life and land can make her. This story has a strong and real texture to it. It takes the reader scene by scene as Hannah experiences her life.  It deals with family, the town, and the sense of losing a way of life as, over the generations, the children of this rural community grow up and choose to live lives away from the farm.

Why I picked this book? I was in a small book shop at a writer’s retreat and wanted a good novel. The pastoral scene on the cover drew me in because I was in a pastoral mood. (I had hiked along the river that morning and was thinking of my grandmother’s home town). Also, I had been hearing people praise Wendell Berry’s work for a while, and I knew nothing of it. This book seemed like the choice of the moment.

Favorite Quote: “And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence” (Berry, 148).

Thanks for reading,

Melody Pickle

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